Change the way thumbnails look in the iOS Photos app

The iOS Photos app defaults to showing you square thumbnails but you can switch to “Aspect Ratio” thumbnails, which are much more useful.

The iOS Photos app’s Thumbnail grid view gives you a bunch of little squares, and that’s good if you want to pack a lot of thumbnails onto one page. But most of your pictures aren’t square, so a square thumbnail is a cropped thumbnail, so you can’t even tell if a picture is landscape or portrait, not from the thumbnail you can’t.

It’s a lot easier to tell what the thumbnails represent if you use the Aspect Ratio Grid. See below.

On the left: Square Photo Grid. On the right: Aspect Ratio Grid

How to change the way thumbnails look

Get into the Thumbnail view and tap the Options button (the circle with the three dots in it), at the upper right. (On an iPad, there’s a button at upper right that says either “Square” or “Aspect”– just give it a tap and you’re done. The Options button still works though.)

The Options button

You’ll get several options. The one we want is “Aspect Ratio Grid.” Tap that, and you get something like this:

Options in iOS Photos Thumbnail View

Choosing “Aspect Ratio Grid” gives you this:

Aspect Ratio Grid in iOS Photos

Note: if you don’t see “Aspect Ratio Grid” as an option, you’re either zoomed out too far (so tap “Zoom In”) or you’re already in Aspect Ratio Grid.

In Aspect Ratio Grid it’s much easier to see which pictures are which. In this screenshot we can see one image in landscape orientation as well as two movies. Also, several thumbnails that looked identical in the regular “square’ thumbnail grid are easily distinguishable in the Aspect Ratio View.

If we go back to the Options button again we can make this even better by zooming in (refer to the screenshot two pictures back).

Aspect Ratio Grid, zoomed in

Now that’s a thumbnail view that’s really useful. At least to me. Experiment and see what works for you!

2 thoughts on “Change the way thumbnails look in the iOS Photos app”

    1. macman2015 – California and Texas – Christian Boyce is a Mac and iPhone consultant with offices in Southern California and Central Texas. He specializes in helping people get more out of their Apple devices and software.
      Christian Boyce says:

      You’re welcome. It’s way better (for me) to see thumbnails that indicate whether a picture is portrait or landscape.

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